Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack
Lakeland, Florida -- Lakeland's police chief has been placed on administrative leave less than a week after announcing her resignation.
City Manager Doug Thomas announced Thursday he has placed Chief Womack on administrative leave after reviewing the results of a State Attorney's Office investigation documenting Womack allegedly violated rules in the hiring practices used for a Public Safety Aide (PSA) position in order to benefit her nephew.
READ: Summary of SAO report on Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack (pdf)
"The report raises serious allegations against Police Chief Lisa Womack regarding potential violations of Florida Statutes involving Official Misconduct, in addition to alleged deviations from Lakeland Civil Service and Personnel Policies and Procedures," Thomas said in a statement Thursday.
In its investigation, the SAO found Womack's nephew, Rhett Hughes, had failed the first portion of the PSA examination. When the employment list of those moving on in the application process was sent out, LPD staff noticed Hughes was not on the list and gave specific instructions to the unit in charge of the applicant testing process not to send out the results.
Hours later, Chief Womack's husband reportedly called his friend, Assistant Chief of Police Charles Thompson who was responsible for the LPD's role in the selection process, to express his dissatisfaction with the results and called the entire process into question.
Despite the fact the validity of the test was verified and reported to the LPD administration, Womack "acted beyond the scope of her authority and made the decision to pass all PSA candidates who had taken the test to the next phase of the selection process regardless of their performance" -- including her nephew.
However, Hughes never made it to the next step in the process. As the SAO was looking into whether Hughes removed himself as emails suggested, or Womack removed him herself as she claimed, Womack resigned from her position.
As a result of her resignation, the investigation was suspended.
"The matter may no longer merit the cost and burden that further investigative and prosecutorial efforts will impose upon the taxpayers of Polk County," the SAO stated in their report.
What may have been the final straw for City Manager Doug Thomas was that the report stated: "In recent days, rumors were circulating inside the police department that Womack intended to exact retribution against opposing LPD members in her remaining three months as the Lakeland Police Chief".
Thomas has appointed Assistant Chief Larry Giddens as Acting Chief of Police pending the outcome of the City's review on the matter.
Recent Lakeland PD stories:
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